Friday, April 26, 2013

First Round Of Nationals: Sours

[link to podcast page]
First Round of the Nationals (Sours) podcast

The American Homebrewers Association organizes the worlds largest international homebrew contest each year -- The National Homebrew Competition. On Saturday April 6, 2013, the North East Regional, which is the first round of competition for our area, was conducted at Alewife beer bistro in Long Island City, Queens, one of 11 such contests across the country which determine the award winning beers that will compete in the national contest in June at the National Homebrewers Conference, held this year in Philly.
When drinking beer becomes serious work.
Most of the judges evaluating the beers have completed the Beer Judge Certification Program, and are ranked from Novice to Grand Master. There's lots more on the topic in a previous blog post.
Often homebrew contests are divided into a morning session and afternoon session, with lunch served in between, and this contest was no exception. For the morning session B.R. judged hybrid lagers, and I judged stouts. Alewife served a hearty, tasty complimentary lunch which included a pint of Rockaway Brewing beer. Then it was off to the afternoon session.

Luck would place B.R. and I together, which is great in itself. But to make a good thing even better, we were assigned Sours -- one of our favorite styles! We judged Kreiks, Flanders Reds, Oud Bruins, Berliner Weisse, etc.  Some of the beers were stand outs, some were not that good, and most were just o.k.  We were very much in agreement on all the beers save for one, which made the judging that much easier. Luckily, there were plenty of beers that we both thought were far superior to the contested beer, so we didn't have to battle over points for that one entry in the ranking placement.

Most of the time spent judging an entry is done in silence, each judge making their own evaluation and writing down as many notes and comments as they can before discussing the entry with their judging partner. In this podcast you can hear us discussing three different entries. The discussions are fairly short, because we agreed on most everything about the beers, and our score sheet comments and scores were so much in accord. In the background you can hear the other judging panel that shared our table, and it gives you a feel for how challenging it is to evaluate beers carefully and with focus when there is so much going on all around you.

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